Dynasty is an American prime time television soap opera that aired on ABC from January 12 1981 to May 11 1989. The series revolved around the Carringtons, a wealthy oil family living in Denver, Colorado.
Peppard, who had difficulties dealing with the somewhat unsympathetic role of Blake, was replaced with John Forsythe (who voiced Charles Townsend in another Aaron Spelling production, Charlie's Angels). In the final production drafts the names Parkhurst and Corby were changed to Carrington and Colby, and their rivalry was written to emulate the Montagues and Capulets of Romeo and Juliet, that is, crossed in love and war.
The first season, filmed in 1980, was delayed by animosity between the networks and the partnership of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which caused a strike. Many new shows were delayed for months, and Dynasty did not see the light of day on ABC until the first weeks of 1981.
Krystle was young, beautiful and vulnerable. She found a hostile reception in the Carrington household — the staff patronised her, Blake's daughter Fallon resented her, and her husband was too preoccupied with his work. Krystle's only ally in the Carrington house was her stepson, the sexually ambivalent Steven. The young adults of the Carrington dynasty had their own problems. Steven was uneasy about fitting into the mold cast for him as Blake's successor and was constantly in conflict with his father, who refused to accept his son's homosexuality. The decadent, ruthless Fallon was Blake's natural heir but unable to enter the Denver-Carrington boardroom because she was a woman; she channelled her energies into toying with various male suitors, such as the Carrington chauffeur Michael Culhane, and being unfaithful to her husband Jeff Colby, whom she had only married as part of a business deal with Jeff's uncle Cecil.
The first season also heavily featured Matthew Blaisdel, Krystle's first love, who worked for Blake Carrington as a geologist and was unhappily married to the emotionally fragile Claudia, who had recently spent time in a psychiatric hospital.
In the first episode of the second season, titled "Enter Alexis," the mysterious surprise witness from the previous season's finale removed her sunglasses to reveal British actress Joan Collins as a new arrival to the series. Collins' Alexis Carrington blazed a trail across the show and its storylines; the additions of Collins and the "formidable writing team" of Eileen and Robert Mason Pollock are generally credited with Dynasty's subsequent rise in the Nielsen Ratings. By the end of the 1981-1982 season Dynasty entered the Top 20, and eventually hit #1 in 1985. The Pollocks "soft-pedaled the business angle" of the show and "bombarded viewers with every soap opera staple in the book, presented at such a fast clip that a new tragedy seemed to befall the Carrington family every five minutes." With Dynasty
With Alexis settled as Krystle's implacable nemesis, Krystle and stepdaughter Fallon settled their differences, forging a bond which riled the displaced and resentful Alexis even further. In the seasons that followed, the rivalry between Blake Carrington's current and former wives became a driver for the melodrama. Alexis resented Krystle's supplanting of her position as mistress of the Carrington household and tried to undermine her at every opportunity.
Alexis caused Krystle's miscarriage and tried repeatedly to ruin her marriage, most notably by finding Krystle's former husband (Samuel) Mark Jennings and proving that their divorce was never finalized (and that, consequently, Krystle's marriage to Blake was invalid).
They had many verbal confrontations. On one occasion Krystle overheard Alexis gossiping about her in an adjoining cubicle at the beauty parlour. Krystle appeared and announced that she too could "throw mud", and tossed a bowl of face mud over Alexis.
There are a handful of trademark catfights, beginning with one in Alexis' art studio on the Carrington estate (in which Krystle won soundly, destroying Alexis's art studio and a painting of Blake in the process), another in the lily pond, one in a mud pool in a park and a final spat (in Dynasty: The Reunion) in a fashion studio. The verbal spars between Krystle and Alexis also marked one of the first times the word "bitch" was used on US television.
The second season cliffhanger saw Blake left for dead on a mountain after a fight with Nick Toscanni, the third involved Alexis and Krystle being lured to Steven's cabin one night and locked inside while the cabin was set ablaze by an unseen arsonist (later revealed to be Joseph, the butler and Kirby's father). The fourth saw the disappearance of Fallon just before her second wedding to Jeff as her car seemingly collided with a truck on a stormy night (to accommodate the departure of Pamela Sue Martin from the series) whilst Alexis was arrested for murder and imprisoned in a jail cell full of "ladies of the night".
Perhaps the most famous Dynasty cliffhanger is the so-called "Moldavian massacre", when Blake's youngest daughter Amanda Carrington married Prince Michael of Moldavia on the eve of a military revolution in his country. Although the massacre itself (arrived at by writer Camille Marchetta, who had devised the wildly-successful 'Who Shot J.R.?' scenario on Dallas five years earlier) had superb production qualities and became the most talked-about episode of any TV series during the calendar year of 1985, it is nonetheless largely remembered for its disappointing resolution four months later.
Nearly every character was in attendance at the royal wedding in the season's final episode which aired in May 1985. At the conclusion of the wedding, revolutionaries stormed in, apparently gunning down everyone in the chapel. The final scene of the episode, with nearly every character on the ground appearing lifeless, gave the impression that anyone could have died, and in the summer that followed many magazines published stories speculating about which characters would survive the massacre.
When the series resumed in the fall viewers quickly learned the outcome of the fifth season finale, where it was revealed that everyone had survived with the exception of two minor characters: Steven's boyfriend, Luke Fuller and Lady Ashley Mitchell played by Ali McGraw. The underwhelming resolution disenchanted fans who felt the storyline had built to nothing, and it is frequently cited as the moment when the series "jumped the shark". In the 2006 CBS special Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar, Gordon Thomson reiterated that it was the follow-up that was the letdown, not the cliffhanger itself. Joan Collins had been conspicuously absent from the season six opener; she was in a tense contract renegotiation with the show, seeking an increased salary. As a result, the first episode had to be rewritten to explain her absence and many scenes were abandoned or given to other characters. Collins' demands were met (she reportedly signed a $60,000 per episode contract) and she returned to the series in the season's second episode, though a planned storyline to make her Queen of Moldavia was scrapped.
Aside from the glamour and campy drama, the show's later years covered controversy surrounding a storyline involving former matinee idol Rock Hudson as Daniel Reece, a character who enjoyed a romantic interaction with Krystle Carrington. Hudson's scenes required him to kiss Linda Evans and, as news that he had contracted AIDS broke, there was hysterical speculation Evans would be at risk.
The lackluster reaction to the 1985 Moldavian conclusion at the onset of season six, combined with a poorly-received dual role for Evans (as Krystle and as Rita, an actress impersonating Krystle for 11 episodes) that same year, the difficult recasting of key character Fallon (now played by Emma Samms), and excessive time spent introducing characters to be spun off onto The Colbys weakened the show.
After the characters returned from Moldavia, Blake spurned Alexis and in retaliation she found his long-departed brother Ben and they swindled Blake out of his fortune. An enraged Blake tried to strangle Alexis to death at the Carrington mansion (which now belonged to Alexis) as the season cliffhanger, just as the hotel La Mirage burned down, killing Claudia. In an interesting turn, the fire at La Mirage caused Amanda to fall into the pool outside the hotel, and when she was pulled out in the next season opener, she was suddenly played by a different actress, and no longer spoke with a British accent. (Oxenberg had left the show after failed contract negotiations.)
During the seventh season, Blake recovered his money, but was rendered an amnesiac in an explosion. Alexis found him and convinced him they were still married, but felt guilty and told him the truth. Blake and Krystle also had to deal with their daughter Krystina being kidnapped. Other stories in that season featured Adam's romance with Dana Waring, Sammy Jo's doomed marriage to Clay Fallmont and reconciliation with Steven (who had recently broken up with closeted politician Bart Fallmont). Also, Amanda suddenly vanished from the show mid-season. A letter left by her explained that she went back to London, and her character was never heard from again. The season ended with Matthew Blaisdel and a gang of gun-toting South American guerillas gatecrashing Adam and Dana's wedding reception and taking the family hostage; while Alexis drove her car off a bridge into a river.
When The Colbys was cancelled, Fallon and Jeff returned for the 1987-1988 season. Steven killed Matthew, revealing his "dark side". Alexis was rescued by Sean Rowan, a mystery man whom she later married. Blake and Alexis each ran for governor of Colorado (they both lost to a third-party candidate); Alexis suffered at the hands of Sean (who planned to kill her due to her part in the death of his father, Joseph, the former Carrington butler); and Steven's reconciliation with Sammy Jo collapsed due to her affair with drug-addicted football player Josh Harris. The 8th season ended with Sean and Dex fighting in Alexis's penthouse when a shot rang out (it would be Sean who died); Sammy-Jo accepting Jeff's proposal while Fallon hid in his bedroom; and Blake returning home to find his bedroom trashed and Krystle missing.
In the 9th and final 1988-1989 season, despite the introduction of a new executive producer who rejuvenated the show and a team of writers who improved the story quality arguably for the first time in years, the ratings continued to plummet, exacerbated by a disadvantageous time slot change. Linda Evans departed the series within a few weeks; Krystle Carrington was sent to Switzerland for emergency surgery, where she fell into a coma, with the door left open for Evans to return at a later stage. In a money-saving move, Joan Collins was contracted for only 13 out of the season's 22 episodes. Former Colbys cast member, Stephanie Beacham, was brought in to reprise her role as firecracker Sable Colby (Tracy Scoggins also returned to her role as Sable's daughter Monica), written into Dynasty as a new antagonist for Alexis to battle against. Beacham's performance won praise and caused many to deem the final season as the best of the series' later years.
Joan Collins and Michael Nader both announced that they would leave Dynasty at the end of the ninth season while it was rumored that Diahann Carroll was asked to return to the series for a potential tenth season. But after moving the series to a new Thursday night slot which proved unsuccessful, ABC pulled the plug in 1989. Fittingly, the show ended on a cliffhanger, with both Blake and Alexis in mortal peril (Blake being shot in the chest and Alexis and Dex Dexter falling off a hotel balcony when the guardrail protecting them broke) and the rest of the cast in similar life-threatening situations.
A miniseries, Dynasty: The Reunion, aired in October 1991. Billed as a wrap-up for the dangling plotlines left by the series' abrupt cancellation 2½ years earlier, The Reunion wasn't produced by the same team as the final season and created more loose ends.
The cable channel SOAPnet aired repeats of all nine seasons. In January 2004, creator Esther Shapiro participated in a marathon of the show's episodes, called "Serial Bowl: Alexis vs. Krystle", giving behind-the-scenes tidbits and factoids.
On January 2 2005, ABC aired a television movie, Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure, purporting to tell of the creation and backstage details of Dynasty. The movie received mixed reviews both for content and for historical accuracy, and was criticized by John Forsythe, Linda Evans and Joan Collins in different press releases. The movie was filmed in Australia (rather than Los Angeles) and a good majority of the cast members were non-Americans. Forsythe was played by Bartholomew John, Evans by Melora Hardin and Collins by Alice Krige. Much dramatic license was taken with the script of Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure, so the show is not an accurate guide to either behind-the-scenes events nor the on-screen storylines of Dynasty. Misleading events include Al Corley being written out in the oil-rig explosion (Corley had already long left the show when the explosion was devised as a way to reintroduce the character of Steven and to explain his change in appearance), Sammy Jo at the Moldavian wedding massacre (she was actually in New York, involved in a separate storyline) and Amanda being written off when her portrayer asked for a raise (Catherine Oxenberg did allegedly leave the show over salary demands, but the role was recast with Karen Cellini). Furthermore, the TV movie made no reference at all to long-running characters Fallon Carrington, Adam Carrington, Jeff Colby, and Claudia Blaisdel.
On May 2 2006, Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar aired on CBS. It assembled for the first time all the original actors who played the Carrington children (Pamela Sue Martin, Al Corley, Gordon Thomson, and Catherine Oxenberg), who reminisced about making the show with other former cast members, including John Forsythe, Joan Collins and Linda Evans. The special was filmed at the Filoli mansion. It was the first time Martin and Oxenberg, as well as Corley and Thomson, shared screen time.
John Forsythe was the only cast member to appear in all 220 episodes of the series, and both Forsythe and John James were the only two original cast members to appear in the final episode. Linda Evans appeared in the next highest number of episodes, for a total of 204 of the 220 episodes. She appeared in only six episodes of the ninth and final season before leaving the series.
In addition, the Crystal Light beverage hired Linda Evans as a spokesperson due to her character's name (Krystle) on Dynasty.
Two fictional novels were published, based on scripts from early episodes — Dynasty and Alexis Returns — written by Eileen Lottman. In 1984, Doubleday/Dolphin published the companion book Dynasty: The Authorized Biography of the Carringtons, which included an introduction by Esther Shapiro. The Authorized Biography featured storyline synopses in the form of extended biographies of the main characters, descriptions of primary locations (like the Carrington Estate and La Mirage) and dozens of photos from the series.
Glamour, Greed & Glory: Dynasty by Judith A. Moose was released in 2005 and included facts, stories, episode guides and photos. Author Moose claims that through research at Spelling Entertainment, she discovered the middle names (unused on air) of some key characters: Alexis Marissa, Amanda Kimberly, Blake Alexander, Claudia Mary and Fallon Marissa.
The first season of Dynasty was released on Region 1 DVD on April 19 2005 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. This edition includes all 15 episodes of the first season, interviews with original cast members Pamela Sue Martin and Al Corley and audio commentary by creator Esther Shapiro and Corley. The set also includes a series overview featurette entitled Family, Furs and Fun: Creating DYNASTY. The rights to subsequent seasons reverted to CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount) in November 2006. The second season was released on August 14 2007. Season 3, Volume 1 was released on June 17 2008, and Season 3, Volume 2 will be released October 21 2008.
|Season||Ep #||Release Date||Comments|
|Season 1||15||April 19 2005||Two commentary tracks, Family, Furs and Fun: Creating DYNASTY series overview, Fallon and Steven Carrington profiles.|
|Season 2||22||August 14 2007||Interactive Family Tree (Blake, Alexis, Krystle, Fallon, Jeff, Steven, Sammy Jo and Little Blake profiles).|
|Season 3, Volume 1||12||June 17 2008|
|Season 3, Volume 2||12||October 21 2008|